Sunday, December 21, 2014

Staycation: Scottish Christmas

A few times each year my dear friend Ashley and I have a staycation day. We both are small business folks and know it is important to have some R+R, even if you can't actually go away somewhere. We take a full day to recharge at home! We have grown this holiday and invited two more friends, Rachel and Nicole.

For this staycation, we had the theme Scottish Christmas. Ashley is a wee bit obsessed with plaid.

For our first breakfast, we enjoyed pumpkin french toast drizzled with maple syrup and fresh berries. We then went on a lovely winter hike, all dressed in cable knit sweaters, plaid and fun furry accessories. Ashley, you own more hiking accessories than the rest of us combined!

We listened to a nice Celtic holiday mix on spotify and got to gab and catch up. There is something special about hanging out with just the ladies!

Of course we were famished after our leisurely hike, so we came back to enjoy an appetizer of delicious cheddar and sour cream kettle chips while our second breakfast baked: individual mushroom, onion and cheddar stratas in the cutest little red ramekins that I found last holiday season on sale.

After second breakfast, Rachel worked her magic on my hair. We were doing a trial up-do for my upcoming nuptials. I can't believe she is able to do such wonderful things to hair without any formal training. I love the hair do she designed and can't wait for the real day (t-minus 8 days!).

Unfortunately Rachel wasn't able to stay for the whole staycation...she had to go after finishing my hair. Boo!

Nicole and Ashley introduced me to a fabulous new show called Miss. Fisher's Murder Mysteries, an Australian show that you all need to watch! It is available on netflix. Miss Fisher is a sassy, independent, wickedly smart woman who is a detective in Melbourne, Australia. She has the most fabulous outfits, hats and make up and if I could find her skin-care regimen, I'd follow it to the letter.  I would like to be her when I grow up!

While relaxing in front of the tube, we enjoyed a lovely little cocktail make with Crown Royale Maple Finished Whiskey. Truly a delightful cocktail!

Mostly it is just important to slow down once in a while, remember to relax and recharge to balance all of the hard work! Life is just too short.

We are actually going to kick of the new year with another staycation in January before the students get back. How wonderful is that? Our theme....chocolate and fur! We will drink hot chocolate with something boozy in there, wear furry hats and sweaters and do some spa therapy with cocoa butter. Stay tuned, this may be our best theme yet!

{Recipe ReDux} Grab a Book and Cook: Golden Cream of Onion Soup

"It’s the end of the year and we’ll taking a moment to reflect: ReDux has been around for 42 months! (Can you believe some of you have ReDux-ed 42 recipes?) To celebrate, we’re playing a little party game this month: Grab your nearest cookbook and ReDux the recipe on page 42 or 142. We can’t wait to see the books you’re cooking from these days - and how you make that recipe healthier."

Has anyone used a Moosewood cookbook? They are a collection of wonderful recipe books by Mollie Katzan. I have several, but chose to open up The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest to page 42 to see what recipe I'd be cooking. Yum - I love soup!

Most of the Moosewood cookbooks are handwritten by Mollie with beautiful illustrations. It is like receiving a favorite recipe from a friend or family member. And her explanations on cooking basics empower anyone to try new recipes. Check her out!

I decided to puree the soup per a recommendation from Martha Stewart, added some broth and I also added some carrots to boost the nutrition as well as create a beautiful golden color. Otherwise, I left the original recipe alone. 

Golden Cream of Onion Soup
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups chopped onion
  • 2 large carrots, grated
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • 1 cup broth, vegetable or chicken
  • 3 cups milk
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  1. In a large soup pot, saute onions in butter for 5-10 minutes or until softened and lightly browned. Add flour, salt and pepper and mustard and stir to evenly distribute flour. Cook for one minute more, or until flour starts to brown.
  2. Stir in stock, milk, nutmeg and carrots. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until all veggies are tender. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Check for seasonings and serve if perfect!
I enjoyed mine with some whole wheat cheesy garlic toast for a lovely supper on a chilly evening!

Check out these other fabulous recipe by the Recipe Redux!

An InLinkz Link-up

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tropical Whole Grain Muffins

It sure is cold outside! Most of the time during winter, I really enjoy soups, stews and hearty food that warms the belly. Every once in a while, though, I want my meal to whisk me away. Today, I brought a small taste of the tropics to my kitchen my using the 100 Days of Real Food Muffin Recipe and added pineapple juice, coconut, banana and a handful of pecans. Delicious!

Tropical Whole Grain Muffins

  • 1½ cups white whole-wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup oil
  • ¾ cup pineapple juice
  • 1 banana, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl with a fork or whisk mix the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  3. Make a well (hole) in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the eggs, honey, vanilla, oil and juice. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together - do not overmix.
  4. Stir in the banana, coconut and pecans. 
  5. Line a muffin pan with liners and fill ⅔ to ¾ of the way full with batter.
  6. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature and freeze some for a later date. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Why I Farm: Downing Fuit Farm

What is the name of your farm? Does that have any special significance?
Downing Fruit Farm and has been since it opened 176 years ago 

Where is your farm?
New Madison, Ohio

Tell me about your farm.
Downing Fruit Farm has been open and running for the past 176 years. The father and daughters that I spoke to are the 7th and 8th generations of the farm and want to pass on the tradition/family business for years to come.

What do you grow or produce?
Apples, Apple Cider, Apple Butter, Honey, Green Beans, Peppers, Tomatoes, Squash, and other produce items.

Do you produce food year round?
Yes, but the majority of business is done between Labor Day and Halloween with the apple sales and production. 

Have you always been a farmer?

What do you wish more folks knew about farming in general?
How labor intensive the business actually is, especially for fruit farmers. Contrary to grain farming, the fruit farm business is time sensitive and the product must be harvested and sold right away, because it is perishable. This means that the sales need to take place quickly, and be profitable enough to last throughout the year. 

What do you wish more people know about your farm, specifically?
We grow over 75 varieties of apples, and all of the fruits and vegetables are hand picked. This is very labor intensive.

What are your future plans for your farm?
In the future, Downing Fruit Farm is getting many new trees. The new trees are shorter and wider, making it easier to harvest the fruit more quickly.

Where can people buy your products?
Oxford Farmer’s Market
Miami University
Moon Co-Op
Local Grocery Stores

Please connect with the Downing Fruit Farm on Facebook!

Friday, November 21, 2014

{Recipe Redux} A Food Memory For Which You Are Thankful: Hot chocolate

In the US, November marks the Thanksgiving holiday. But many of us are especially thankful for food memories we have shared with friends or relatives throughout our lives. Was it a special meal you ate as a child? Or, maybe it was a food you grew and harvested with your own children. Please share one of your favorite food memories and the healthier “redo” of the recipe.

Today I am remembering my sweet grandmother, Nini as she was known to the grand kids. Occasionally, she would invite us over for a hot cocoa party. This was a huge deal! She had adorable tiny sugar cookies from a local bakery, a hot cocoa set that looked like a tea pot with matching tiny cups. We were even allowed to drink the hot chocolate in her living room...on the white carpet!

It sure is simple to rip open a packet of hot cocoa mix, add hot water and stir until dissolved. It you take a minute to read the ingredient list, however, it may challenge you to rethink that cup! From partially hydrogenated oils to ingredients I cannot pronounce, I think there is a better way. 

My brother in law is from Belgium and he taught my sister and I a simple way to make "Real Food" hot chocolate. I tweaked it a bit by adding a pinch of cinnamon!

Real Food Hot Chocolate

  • 1 mugful of milk
  • 1 ounce or so of your favorite dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon powder (optional)
  1. Grab your favorite mug and pour in milk (easiest way to measure!)
  2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the dark chocolate and milk and whisk while heating. 
  3. Continue heating and whisking until mixture is warm and steamy, but not boiling. Add pinch of cinnamon if desired and pour into your mug. 
Best if enjoyed while wearing a giant sweater. 

An InLinkz Link-up

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Guest Post: Review of Nutri Ninja Pro

Buying the right blender is crucial if you enjoy getting in your daily servings of greens and fruit from delicious smoothies like I do.  I recently purchased the Nutri Ninja Pro after the unfortunate death of my Magic Bullet, and followed by hours of researching, comparing, and reading costumer reviews.   I needed a blender that was compact enough to fit in my small apartment kitchen that was reasonably priced, yet powerful enough to produce a smooth and even consistency in my smoothies.

What's included:
  • 900 Watt Motor Base
  • 18 oz. Nutri Ninja Cup
  • 24 oz. Nutri Ninja Cup
  • 2 Sip and Seal Lids
  • Ninja Pro Extractor Blades
  • Instruction Book
  • 30 Recipe and Wellness Guide

  • Powerful
  • Stable
  • Easy to use
  • Great for on the go! The accessory cups, one smaller and one larger, made it easy to take my concoctions in the car or walking to class.  
  • Less expensive than the Magic Bullet
  • Compact
  • Smooth consistency
  • Easy to Clean
  • Dishwasher safe 

  • Have to continuously hold down to blend
  • Limited to single serving cups
  • Only one speed
  • Does not blend everything perfectly

Overall, I believe the Nutri Ninja Proto be a great investment for those looking to make personal smoothies.   Since buying the Ninja, I make a smoothie nearly every morning for on my way to class or work. For the price and the power, it was worth the $100 investment.  Compared to the NutriBullet Pro 900, I found it to be more powerful, higher quality, and able to blend up ice, seeds, and vegetables much better.  The cheaper price tag is just icing on the cake!

This is my favorite morning-time green smoothie I’ve made with my Nutri Ninja Pro:
  • 1 cup kale
  • 2 large bananas
  • 1 cup almond milk

Place the ingredients into the Nutri Ninha Pro blender and blend until smooth, adding ice if you wish!
Tip: Use 1/2 - 1 frozen banana to make it a cold smoothie rather than adding ice!

Guest Post by Hannah
Hannah is a Junior Miami University Dietetics Student and is currently interning at Grass Roots Nutrition. She will be co-hosting the December Real Food Challenge. Hannah enjoys hiking, cooking any breakfast foods and creating new recipes.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Moving on the road: 4 tips to stay active on the road

How to be active while traveling? This can be a challenge! Read these four tips to staying active, even if you are on the road!
  • Use an app: your phone can guide you through anything from a 5k training schedule, how to get  to 100 pushups or even yoga. Try some apps and pick a favorite.
  • Prepare and prioritize.We get done what we prioritize. If you're planning to walk during your next trip, make sure that you have appropriate clothes and shoes. If you plan to do yoga, pack a mat. Think about the planned schedule and plug in when you'll be doing the exercise. If you treat it like an important important in your day, it will get done!
  • Take a Walk. Even ten minutes of walking is useful to our metabolism. Use it as a healthy escape from a long to-do list and come back more refreshed. Take a few flights of stairs if you're in a tall building. Walking will improve our carbohydrate metabolism and is most useful after meals!
  • Use YouTube. My favorite channel is Fitness Blender; they're a great collection of exercise videos that require minimal equipment or no equipment, they don't have music and the instructors are no muss, no fuss. I'm not motivated by a hyper instructor that sounds like a gerbil!

How do you stay active on the road?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Guest Post: 11 Healthy Habits for You and the Planet

 1.  Purchase organic, sustainably produced food when you can.
The industrialized way plants and animals are farmed today (by just a few large corporations) has negative impacts on the environment that we don’t often realize.  Here’s how:

In today’s crop production, monocultures of mostly corn and soybeans (from genetically modified seeds) are grown over large areas, year after year.  These crops rely on the use of chemical fertilizers for nutrients, pesticides to control critters and disease, and machines that replace human labor.  These monocultures remove nutrients from the soil, requiring farmers to use even more chemical fertilizers that cause soil erosion and increase the salinity of the soil.  The increase in salinity makes any available nutrients inaccessible to the plants requiring even more fertilizers to be applied.  The fertilizers also contain nitrogen that can leach into rivers and streams, encouraging overgrowth of algae and depriving wildlife of oxygen.  The pesticides applied to fields kill the beneficial insects that are healthy for the crops, can be passed down to animals and humans that eat the crops, and develop pests that are pesticide-resistant.

On today’s animal factory farms, most animals are raised together in unnaturally large numbers.  The animals are confined in spaces with little room for normal behaviors and little or no access to sunlight and fresh air.  At many of these large factory farms, urine and feces from the animals is mixed with water and held in lagoons that hold millions of gallons and produce massive amounts of air pollution and water pollution harming humans and wildlife.  Did you know that it’s estimated that the world’s livestock alone accounts for 18 percent of all greenhouse gases, which is more than all forms of transportation combined?  A different study found that it takes 5,000 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef.  As if all of this isn’t bad enough, the animals are given antibiotics to ward off the diseases caused by these unnatural, unsanitary conditions and hormones to promote faster growth.

Well, isn’t this just a disaster.

This separation of plant and animal production disrupts that natural cycle of renewal.  In organic, sustainable farming systems, animal manure is incorporated back into the soil to replenish the nutrients that have been lost.  The nutrients from the soil and manure are drawn into the crops as they grow, which are then fed to the animals.  Organic farms follow these practices that recycle resources, promote biodiversity, and do not need synthetic genes, pesticides, or fertilizers.

So, how do you know if something is organic?  Ask your local farmer or check that the label for a USDA Organic seal.  Organic food can be more expensive and more difficult to find, so I’m not asking you to buy only organic.  Try buying organic for a few select items, one meal a week, or for part of the year.  Just a small change can make a difference.
2.  Eat food that’s in season and produced locally when you can.
If you buy something produced locally, chances are you’re eating what’s in season.  When you buy food produced nearby, you are supporting your local farmers with sustainable agricultural practices and you are reducing your carbon footprint (by eating food that did not burn fossil fuels to get from the farm to your plate).  An added benefit is that your food will be fresher than food shipped across the planet making it more tasty and nutritious.  Many of the vitamins, antioxidants, and phytochemicals in produce deteriorate over time, so the less time is sits around after harvest the better.

I suggest buying from your farmer’s market when you can or choosing to receive produce from your local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).  Or learn how to preserve fruits and vegetables so you can eat locally all year long.  Challenge yourself to cook one local meal a week!

Where you buy your food is like a vote.  Will you vote for sustainably produced food and better farming practices?

3.  Grow some of your own food.
Plant a garden in your backyard, grow a pot of tomatoes on the patio, start a herb garden on your indoor windowsill, or join a community garden.  You will be eating fresher, more nutritious food that has no negative impact on the environment to grow!

4.  Eat less meat and more produce.
Industrially farmed meat has the highest impact of any other food product on the environment (due to the high carbon emissions and water usage used to raise livestock I described above).  I’m not saying that meat is bad, but if you eat more plant-based foods, you’ll not only be helping the environment, but consuming more fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals to keep you healthy!

5.  Eat from the pasture.
Animals that are allowed to graze pastures as nature designed them to have less negative environmental impact and are treated more humanely.  It’s better for you too!  Pasture-raised livestock’s meat and milk generally have higher levels of healthy fats.

6.  Buy products with minimal packaging.
Most excess packaging is made through energy-intensive processes and creates hazardous waste and greenhouse gases.  Packaging waste fills our landfills and releases toxins into the air during the recycling process.  

Look for products with minimal packaging such as unwrapped produce or meat straight from the deli counter.  Instead of buying bottled drinks, drink tap water from a reusable water bottle.  Not only is this better for the environment, but it is better for your health too because potentially harmful chemicals are released over time from the plastic into the contents of the bottle that we drink from.  Water filters are a great way to filter your tap water at home.

Because most processed food is highly packaged, buying and eating less processed food can help reduce waste that ends up in landfills and help your health too.  Processed food is typically high in processed flour, processed sugar, salt, and synthetic additives and preservatives.

7.  Use reusable shopping bags.
This can help reduce demand for production of plastic bags as well as reduce the amount of waste your household sends to the landfill.

8.  Use cloth napkins, reusable utensils, and reusable shopping bags.
Use cloth napkins and towels and real plates, bowls, cups, bottles, and other utensils.  This will reduce the demand for production of paper and plastic products and reduce the amount of trash you produce.  Just small changes can go a long way!

9.  Try composting.
This isn’t for everyone, but if you have the resources to do so, give composting a try.  It will turn your food scraps into a resource that keeps on giving instead of adding to the landfill.

10.  Double your recipes.
The leftovers from your meals will last you longer and you will use less energy than if you cooked multiple meals.

11.  Save your leftovers.
Instead of throwing your leftovers in the landfill or using energy to cook another meal, save your leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer to use later.  Get creative and revamp them into a new meal or pair them with different foods.


Guest blog by Katie!
Katie is a former intern at Grass Roots Nutrition and a recent graduate of Miami University with degrees in nutrition and zoology.  She  is attending the dietetic internship program at Bradley University in order to become a registered dietitian.  She loves running, traveling, and cooking healthy recipes with friends and family.  Her favorite foods are dark chocolate and cheese!
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